Manchester speaker is innocent man who spent 30 years on death row
Anthony Ray Hinton was falsely accused and convicted of murder, spending nearly 30 years on death row in Alabama before being exonerated and released in 2015. He will speak Dec. 6 at Manchester University.
"The sun does shine," he said as he was embraced by tearful family and friends on April 3, 2015.
His release, covered at the time by the Washington Post, New York Times and all of the major networks, was the subject of a CBS News “60 Minutes” presentation.
Hinton will be introduced at Manchester by Sia Sanneh, a senior attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative, which secured his release after tireless efforts over more than 12 years of litigation.
According to the EJI website, Hinton was convicted based solely on the assertion that a gun taken from his mother’s house was used in two killings and a third uncharged crime. No bullets used to commit those crimes, however, were a match to that gun.
In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned his conviction and he was released following a new trial.
“Race, poverty, inadequate legal assistance, and prosecutorial indifference to innocence conspired to create a textbook example of injustice,” said his lead attorney, Bryan Stevenson.
Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative and wrote “Just Mercy: A story of Justice and Redemption,” a widely acclaimed New York Times bestseller that details the powerful, true story of another black man who was sentenced to die for a murder he did not commit, despite strong evidence that he was innocent.
Related events on the North Manchester campus exploring racial bias in the justice system will be offered to students leading up to Hinton’s talk at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, in Cordier Auditorium at the North Manchester campus. It is free and open to the public.
Stacy Erickson-Pesetski will lead a discussion with students after Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13TH” is shown at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 28 in the upper level of the Jo Young Switzer Center. Erickson-Pesetski, associate dean for academic resources and an associate professor at MU, spent a sabbatical teaching Shakespeare to inmates at Pendleton Correctional Facility.
When she returned, she encouraged her students to join others in the Death Row Support Project of the Church of the Brethren. At one point, more than 40 students were hand-writing letters to 56 death-row inmates.
The Nov. 28 and Dec. 6 presentations are part of the Manchester University Values, Ideas and the Arts series that is designed to offer cultural exposure, artistic experience and intellectual enrichment to students. It is common to explore important, and sometimes uncomfortable, topics.
The Hinton lecture is sponsored by the Jon Livingston Mock Memorial Lectureship and the Office of Academic Resources at Manchester.
With 1,600 students at its campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Manchester University respects the infinite worth of every individual, promotes responsible citizenship and puts high value on service. It calls on the diverse faiths of its community members to make the world a kinder and better place, establish justice and build peace amid strife. Learn more about the private, northern Indiana school at www.manchester.edu.